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California Immigrant Higher Education Act (AB 540)

California Immigrant Higher Education Act (AB 540) was signed into law on October 12, 2001 and allows eligible students to pay in-state tuition, instead of the much higher nonresident tuition, while attending public colleges and universities. Undocumented students are eligible for AB 540 if the following requirements are met:

  • Attended a high school in California for three or more years;
  • Graduated from a California high school, received a High School Equivalency Certificate issued by the California State GED Office, or received a Certificate of Proficiency resulting from the California High School Proficiency Examination;
  • Do not currently hold any nonimmigrant visa, such as F, M, B, J, etc., and
  • Must submit an affidavit with the college or university (not USCIS!) stating that he or she has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.

Although AB 540 doesn't change a student's immigration or residence status, it is still a significant legislation that has changed many people's lives. The exemption of nonresident tuition allows many more students to purse their dream of higher education, especially since undocumented families do not qualify for federal or state financial aid.

AB 540 covers all public colleges and universities in the State, including University of California (UC System), California State University (CSU), and community colleges.

A school's Admissions Office should be able to provide the latest form to request AB540 nonresident tuition exemption. In addition, many schools have published comprehensive AB-540 reference guides.

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